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6.5 Why does Emacs say ‘Error in init file’?

An error occurred while loading either your .emacs file or the system-wide file site-lisp/default.el. Emacs 21.1 and later pops the *Messages* buffer, and puts there some additional information about the error, to provide some hints for debugging.

For information on how to debug your .emacs file, see Debugging a customization file.

It may be the case that you need to load some package first, or use a hook that will be evaluated after the package is loaded. A common case of this is explained in Terminal setup code works after Emacs has begun.